DR Congo reports 11 new fever cases, death amid Ebola outbreak

DR Congo reports 11 new fever cases, death amid Ebola outbreak

On 8 May 2018, the Ministry of Health (MOH) of the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared an outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Bikoro Health Zone, Equateur Province.

As of 11 May 2018, there are a total of 34 cases, with 18 deaths (case fatality rate 52.9%), among which two cases are confirmed, 14 suspected and 18 probable.

"We are very concerned, and we are planning for all scenarios, including the worst case scenario", WHO's head of emergency response Peter Salama told reporters in Geneva.

Her Tourism counterpart, Najib Balala said the government has maintained constant communication with DRC officials, who assured that the situation is under control. Some 462 million people are living in the areas affected by Ebola virus outbreaks, many of them in very remote rural areas.

Salama emphasized that the vaccination operation for Ebola is far more complex than that for orally-administered polio vaccine.

The disease has killed at least 17 people in the northwestern Bikoro town in DRC. However, the organisation said it is working with neighboring countries on border surveillance and preparedness for possible outbreaks. In its update today, the World Health Organization estimated the cost of a 3-month worldwide response to be $18 million.

The province of Equateur has an estimated population of 2.5 million people with 284 registered health facilities.

Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told the Washington Post that Ebola outbreaks are risky in an increasingly urbanizing Africa because once infections spread to a metropolitan area, they become much more hard to control. Contacts with the body fluids of an infected victim, including sweat or saliva, can cause a healthy person to contract the disease.

Democratic Republic of Congo - a simple intervention that could potentially have saved thousands of lives had it been ready in 2014.

Salama said World Health Organization is waiting for DR Congo authorities to approve the deployment of an experimental vaccine although he added the drug was not a magic bullet. Bikoro has a population of about 163,000 spread over an area of approximately 1,075 square kilometers (415 square miles).

Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have recorded deadly outbreaks of the disease in the last four years. We probably won't know for sure what went wrong in this outbreak, but blame has been placed on the slow response of the global community, the fragility of the region's health services, and the failure of public health campaigns to reach all people.

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